Why did the GOP cut almost $900,000 from Lampson challenger Pete Olson?
Sat October 18, 2008 6:22 am

There are three plausible reasons for the reduction:
1. Olson is winning and doesn’t need the money.
2. Olson is losing and the money can’t save him.
3. Some other race is more important to the Republican party.

Here’s how RedState sees it:

The NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] has yanked ads from TX-22, where they’d been pouring money in to Pete Olson’s campaign against Nick Lampson.

According to documents obtained by FortBendNow, the NRCC had initially planned to spend $1,489, 320 on television ads in the Houston market, but has now reduced that amount to $593,730. The NRCC has not commented on the reason for the almost $900,000 cut.

The Lampson campaign says this is because the NRCC does not want to waste its money. Likewise, the media quotes an unnamed “Olson campaign volunteer” who feels betrayed.

What the article does not mention is that Olson is ahead in the polling and is set to beat Lampson, which is why the NRCC decided it does not need to spend any more money. Olson is about to throw up his own ad buys too.

According to … Ken Spain at the NRCC, “Liberal Democrats like Nick Lampson and some in the mainstream media should hesitate before attempting to depict this decision as one that is being made out of anything other than a position of strength. Despite weeks of false and misleading attack ads from Democrats in Washington against Pete Olson, Nick Lampson remains in a politically perilous situation.”

The last two paragraphs of RedState’s coverage do not inspire confidence in Olson’s situation. The first contains an unsubstantiated assertion that Olson is ahead in the polling. The quotation by Ken Spain – “Nick Lampson remains in a politically perilous situation” – sounds more like, “We have a shot at beating him” than “He’s history.”

After the senatorial debate in Dallas on Thursday, I asked a couple of Cornyn staffers how the race was going. (Olson formerly served as Cornyn’s chief of staff.) The answer was, “It’s within the margin of error.” A close race that could go either way: that sounds right to me.

Here’s what I believe lay behind the NRCC’s decision to reduce Olson’s funding. The NRCC has limited resources. Protecting incumbents is their first priority. Two GOP incumbents whose districts lie wholly or partially in Harris County, John Culberson and Michael McCaul, face tough races: Culberson against wind power billionaire Michael Skelley and McCaul against attorney Larry Joe Doherty. McCaul’s race is particularly precarious because he won by a relatively small margin in 2006, and his district contains a large chunk of Austin. These races are higher priorities for Republicans than Olson’s race. Sooner or later, the GOP will regain control of the 22nd district.

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